Federal prosecutors filed court papers Monday seeking a six-month prison term for former Las Vegas police Lt. Ben Kim, who pleaded guilty in a
$1 million bank fraud scheme involving a struggling courthouse restaurant.
The case against Kim, who once co-owned the Courthouse Cafe at the Regional Justice Center, stems from the sweeping investigation into fraud and corruption at Las Vegas Valley homeowners associations.
In all, 28 defendants have pleaded guilty in the two related cases spearheaded by the Justice Department’s Fraud Section in Washington. D.C.
Earlier this month, 11 more defendants in the homeowners association scheme, including the man alleged to be the mastermind, former construction company boss Leon Benzer, were indicted by a federal grand jury, and still more defendants are to be charged.
Benzer and attorney David Amesbury were partners with Kim in the Courthouse Cafe, which is now a Capriotti’s sandwich shop.
Amesbury pleaded guilty in the bank fraud scheme and the conspiracy to take over 11 homeowners associations but later committed suicide.
Kim’s ex-wife, Lisa Kim, who once ran a community property management company linked to the takeover scheme, has pleaded guilty in the both cases and is awaiting sentencing.
On Feb. 4, Ben Kim, who retired in 2010 after 24 years on the Metropolitan Police Department, is to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge James Mahan on a misprision of felony count alleging he had knowledge and failed to report the bank fraud scheme, which occurred between 2008 and 2009.
Prosecutors also are seeking a $5,000 fine and three years of supervised release for Kim.
In court papers, Justice Department trial attorney Thomas B.W. Hall said the six-month prison term is necessary to “affirm the seriousness of the offense and promote respect for the law.
“While a member of the police force, Mr. Kim knowingly committed fraudulent, criminal acts in conjunction with others,” Hall wrote.
“Police officers have a duty to investigate criminal activity, not participate in fraudulent schemes for personal financial gain.”
Hall said Kim submitted false financial documents and concealed information from bank officials in a failed bid to obtain a $1 million loan to keep afloat the Courthouse Cafe. The partners were leasing the restaurant space from Clark County.
Kim failed to disclose the partners had struck a financial arrangement with another businessman to take over the daily operations of the Courthouse Cafe, prosecutors have alleged.
Kim’s attorney, Assistant Federal Public Defender William Carrico, filed court papers late Monday seeking probation for Kim.
Carrico downplayed Kim’s role in the bank fraud scheme and argued that the government’s push for prison time is unfair.
Despite ties to several key players in the homeowners association scheme, which took place between 2003 and 2009, Kim was never charged in the case.
The investigation, which became public in September 2008, is thought to be the largest public corruption case federal authorities have brought in Southern Nevada.
Prosecutors have alleged Benzer and construction defects attorney Nancy Quon pulled the strings in the scheme. Quon committed suicide last March before authorities could charge her.
Benzer, Quon and others funneled more than $8 million through secret bank accounts to land lucrative legal, construction and community management contracts from the homeowners associations, the indictment alleges.
The conspirators, through election rigging and other dirty tricks, stacked association boards with members who handed out contracts worth millions of dollars at the expense of the homeowners, according to the indictment.
Contact Jeff German at email@example.com or 702-380-8135.